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What is World Class Manufacturing? Meaning and Principles of World Class Manufacturing

Posted on the 16 May 2020 by Rinkesh @ThinkDevGrow

Today's leading manufacturing philosophies are grouped as "World Class Manufacturing" and are continually evolving. The introduction of the Internet of Things ("IoT"), Robotics, and Artificial Intelligence ("AI") is once again changing the face of manufacturing and their inclusion is essential for any organization to be called a World Class Manufacturer.

Definition

Manufacturing can be simply defined as the transforming of raw materials or components into a finished item by the use of manual labor or machines.

World Class Manufacturing ("WCM") is a set of concepts, set out as policies and principles developed for the operation and management of a manufacturing organization. Their focus on driving the organization towards becoming a lean mean machine with cost-effective and flexible operating processes. It is important to understand that WCM is not just shop-floor practices, but covers all aspects of an organization's activity.

In general, current WCM practices are based on those developed in Japan following World War Two as they began to reinstate their manufacturing base. However, having said that, as stated above the inclusion of robotics, the Internet of Things and advanced networking concepts like Intent-Based Networks and Fog Computing are provoking a fundamental rethink and rework of some fundamental aspects of WCM.

WCM as an objective begins in the late 1940s and early 1950s. At that time, Toyota went back to basics and created an integrated organizational methodology for manufacturing companies with the intent of streamlining their manufacturing processes and improving competitiveness in world markets. The process was officially given the name Lean Manufacturing in the late 1980s after being the generic term for the Toyota and similar systems.

Historical Perspective

The overall objectives of the WCM policies and procedures are to produce quality products, on time and at the lowest operational costs possible. It is essential in today's global markets to stay one step ahead of the competition, and WCM is seen as a way to do this.

This requires a continual focus on continuous improvements in quality, including such areas as inward and outward lead times, flexibility in operations, and high levels of customer service. In Japan, this is called Kaizen, gradual, continuous improvement.

Simply put, WCM is not a particular product, more of a mindset geared towards consistently delivering exceptional and expectations-beating manufacturing performance.

In practice, it is a process-driven approach that applies the best of breed concepts and process models within the overall business workflow and uses them to operate and manage the manufacturing process. Depending on the type of business, many variants exist, with the biggest differences being between discrete and process manufacturing.

The best way to demonstrate the difference is that discrete manufacturing involves the production of individual items from discrete parts, such a car manufacturing, while process manufacturing is the manufacturing of individual items from large volume bulk inputs, like whiskey or bread. Some processes, such as pharmaceuticals and food will have further regulations applied to their manufacturing processes for Health and Safety reasons.

Many focus areas are considered as part of the continuous improvement process.

These include:

Operations and Manufacturing Planning:

  • A customer places and manages their own order online, including made to order and selection of features and options
  • Optimization of manufacturing routes and physical shop-floor placement
  • Collection of parts
  • Doing it the right first time
  • Better manufacturing planning and control through smaller lot sizes
  • Cellular or group manufacturing using standardized techniques and components
  • Planned preventive maintenance meaning better equipment availability
  • Having common replacement parts on hand for quick replacement
  • Zero Defects Manufacturing as an objective
  • Just in Time procurement
  • Statistical process control

Human Resources:

  • Higher employee involvement
  • Cross-Functional Work Teams
  • Multi-Skilled employees
  • Management awareness of new trends and concepts
  • Cross-Functional Quality Circles

Other focus areas appear from time to time as the flavor of the month, but the fundamental principles set out in the basic concepts of continuous improvement will still apply.

There are seven keys to becoming a world-class manufacturer:

The focus areas set out above layout most of the focus areas of WCM. These are usually decomposed into seven keys to being recognized as the objectives of a WCM organization.

1. Planning

Exceeding Customer Expectations

This requires customer delivery times to be met, quality standards maintained, and if after-sales support is needed, providing a high level of availability and responsiveness.

This simply means doing it right the first time, and meeting quality standards at all points in the manufacturing process.

In short, the overriding need to meet and exceed customer expectations feeds through into all aspects of the organization's operations.

2. Enterprise Management

The organization management needs to keep up to date on industry developments and is open to new and innovative manufacturing and management methods.

In today's global markets, being agile enough to anticipate and respond to changing customer demands is essential, and having the ability to adapt manufacturing techniques is not negotiable.

3. Communications - Improving Performance Visibility

Communication between management and the shop floor must be two-way.

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The workforce needs to know if their efforts are bearing fruit. Regular meaningful communication on the status of the various improvement projects underway will keep the workforce onboard and motivated.

They need feedback to management as well. An example of upwards feedback is multi-disciplinary Quality Circles. They meet regularly to discuss the processes in their work area to identify how they could be improved. They will often focus on reducing costs or increasing productivity.

4. Improving Outsourcing

Outsourcing may be needed in two major areas:
  • Many improvement projects will require skills that the company does not possess or are required only for a specific project and are not to be retained. An outsourced organization can provide those resources.
  • Non-core parts of the business, such as payroll processing could be outsourced, replacing, and perhaps reducing operational costs.

5. Operations

Lead Time Reduction

One of the best visible improvements is to meet or beat customer delivery times. Nothing makes a customer happier than receiving delivery on time or early.

Specific focus areas in operations will include:
  • Preventative maintenance
  • Just-in-Time procurement
  • Using multi-skilled operatives in flexible work teams
  • Investigation of new manufacturing techniques including cellular manufacturing, IoT, standardization of components, and general awareness of trends and innovations in manufacturing processes.
  • Reducing wastage

Operations also need to continually monitor how changes in shop floor organization could assist. For example, the use of IoT, Fog networks, and cellular manufacturing potentially could bring benefits.

6. Improving The Time To Market

Today's markets change and develop very quickly. Long implementation cycles are no longer workable. The company that's an early adopter of new technologies that allow it to bring products to market earlier in the design, build, and sell process is more likely to gain or retain its WCM status.

A good example is the software industry. Back in the day, it was feasible to take two years to select and implement an ERP package. Not so nowadays. Implementation times are now measured in months.

7. Cost Reduction

As always the bean counters have the final say. A WCM company needs to keep a careful eye on the costs of production, with cost reduction as a key objective of its continuous improvement processes.

One particular area in discrete manufacturing is increasing material usage and reducing wastage.

Principles of World Class Manufacturing

Simply put, WCM is not a particular product, more of a mindset geared towards consistently delivering exceptional and expectations-beating manufacturing performance.

In practice, it is a process-driven approach that applies the best of breed concepts and process models within the overall business workflow and uses them to operate and manage the manufacturing process. Depending on the type of business, many variants exist, with the biggest differences being between discrete and process manufacturing.

The best way to demonstrate the difference is that discrete manufacturing involves the production of individual items from discrete parts, such a car manufacturing, while process manufacturing is the manufacturing of individual items from large volume bulk inputs, like whiskey or bread. Some processes, such as pharmaceuticals and food will have further regulations applied to their manufacturing processes for Health and Safety reasons.

The principles used to determine wherever an organization is a WCM organization include:
  • Customer satisfaction
      Customer expectations drive the process
  • Streamlined Processes
      Continuous improvement by reductions and elimination of losses
  • Efficiency and Productivity Improvements
    • Zero accidents
    • Zero Breakdowns
    • Zero Defects
    • Zero Wastage
    • Visible Fault Management
  • Employee Satisfaction
      Enabling and Motivating Environment

This is carried out in a culture of continuous improvement. In Japan, this is called Kaizen, gradual, continuous improvement.


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